“Author and Audience: Creating ‘Sanctifiction’ in Middle Byzantine Hagiography”

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Yang, Julian
Byzantium, Hagiography, Authorial Role, Literature, Medieval
This project examines the authorial role in writing a successful hagiography during the so-called Middle Byzantine Period between the ninth and eleventh century. In this skeptical pre-modern society, authorial agency inevitably played a significant role in determining the success and failure of hagiographical narratives and the associated cults of the saints. I investigate the range of authorial techniques to create authority, establish holiness, engage an audience’s interest, and express potentially contentious individual ideas found in Byzantine hagiographical narratives. The observations and analysis I make in this project will demonstrate two issues: that there is a recurring set of techniques which the authors learned, modified, and applied to write a compelling story; and that these authors, despite the fact that they were writing the most religious genre of literature in their society, used their work as an opportunity to achieve personal goals. This project will make a contribution to the existing scholarship by identifying: a) the vivid presence of less religious and more personal concerns embedded within the genre of literature which is often understood to be solely focused on praising the spiritual excellence of the protagonist; and b) the range of techniques that the authors in Byzantium apparently employed to successfully appeal to their audience.  
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